Upcoming video games releases for the weeks of December 15 and 22: Vintage gaming in the two-volume Konami Classics and a classic revisited in Alien Breed Evolution for the 360, family-friendly murder mystery in Blue Toad Murder Files, Buzz! Quiz World comes to PSP, rock band Van Halen enters the Guitar Hero collection, and another Final Fantasy game arrives in the form of Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers.
Konami Classics Vol 1 & 2 (360)
Release: North America, December 15. Europe, TBA.
Konami compiles six classics into two volumes of videogaming history: Volume 1 contains CastleVania, Frogger, and Super Contra (aka Super Probotector), whilst Volume 2 comprises Contra (aka Probotector), Rush'n Attack (aka Green Beret) and Track & Field. Though Track & Field and Rush'n Attack are already available on the Xbox Live Arcade for 400 Points each (~$5 / €4.65) on the Xbox Live Arcade, here they are compiled for those without internet connection, gift givers, or those who simply prefer hard copies of their games.
Price: $19.99 each
Alien Breed Evolution: Episode 1 (360)
Release: North America and Europe, December 16. PC and PS3 versions to follow in 2010.
The first of a three-part reboot of the Alien Breed series, whose original award-winning classic came out in 1991 on the Commodore Amiga. This time rather than going for a full 3D look as later games in the series had done, Evolution harks back to the top-down viewpoint of the earliest games, but this time with players using one control stick for movement and the other to direct gunfire, and an online/ offline two-player mode whose storyline diverges from the single-player experience. While the original Alien Breed games were heavily influenced by Ridley Scott and James Cameron's Alien films and later by the success of 3D video game Doom, here Evolution looks like a bird's eye view multiplayer version of EA's 2009 surprise hit Dead Space, full of atmosphere, tension, and frenetic action that soon descends into the blind chaos of being stranded aboard an alien-infested space hulk. Amiga versions of all previous games in the series are available for free download at Dream17.co.uk, with Team17's blessing.
Price: 800 Microsoft Points (~$10 / €9.30)
Licensed Amiga emulators from €9.99 (~$15): http://www.amigaforever.com
Blue Toad Murder Files, Episodes 1 & 2 (PS3)
Release: Europe, December 17. North America, TBC.
The Blue Toad Murder Files is a family whodunit from Relentless Games, the same company behind the super-popular PlayStation 3 quiz series Buzz!, whose most recent PS3 release was only a month prior with Buzz! Quiz World. Blue Toad Murder Files take a more considerate, deductive approach to all-age multiplayer gaming with a series of crime mysteries taking place in the cartoon village of Little Riddle.
Price: PlayStation Network Store download - £6.29 / €7.99 per episode, £9.99 / €12.99 for both
Buzz! Quiz World (PSP)
Release: Europe, December 17. North America, TBC.
The fourth PSP iteration of the popular PlayStation quiz series, Buzz! Quiz World is a conversion of the PlayStation 3 title of the same name, released not more than six weeks beforehand, and voiced by Jason Donovan who made his name in the late 1980s with a string of high profile TV and pop music performances. The PSP version is, as one would expect, an ever so slightly cut down version of its big brother, but still contains the same familiar gameplay mechanics, a whopping 4,500 quiz questions, and a multiplayer mode that can accommodate up to 6 players on the same PSP.
Guitar Hero: Van Halen (360, PS2, PS3, Wii)
Release: North America, December 22. Europe, April 2.
Following up on the success of two special Guitar Hero editions exclusively featuring tunes from Aerosmith and Metallica, Van Halen's four decade-spanning career follows in this self-contained game. Previously released as part of a North American tie-in promotion with September's Guitar Hero 5, GH:VH is now available separately. Guitar Hero: Van Halen contains 25 Van Halen hits including stand-out track "Jump," as well as guest tracks from 19 other artists including the Foo Fighters, Queen, and Tenacious D. As the official line-up is now made up of singer David Lee Roth, brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, and Eddie's son Wolfgang, the game omits previous band members Michael Anthony, Gary Cherone, or Sammy Hagar - presumably Guitar Hero fans of the old-style 'Halen will be crossing their fingers for Guitar Hero: Chickenfoot or Guitar Hero: Extreme.
Price: $59.99 (360, PS3), $49.99 (Wii), $39.99 (PS2)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii)
Release: North America, December 26. Europe, February 5. Japan, released November 12.
This latest release is part of a sub-series in Final Fantasy's epic and neverending roleplaying story arc, and an improvement on the first Crystal Chronicles game on the Nintendo GameCube in that The Crystal Bearers' multiplayer mode doesn't require the use of four separate Gameboy Advance handheld consoles, making do with an additional Wii Remote instead. Japanese games magazine Famitsu gave The Crystal Bearers an overall score of 30/40 when it was released there in November, a slight improvement on January's 29/40 score for previous game Echoes Of Time which was generally well received by fans.
Price: $49.99 / €49.99